Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sierra D. Langdon

BREMERTON, Washington – Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) weapons department visited with elementary students at Crownhill School as part of ongoing community outreach events, May 26.

The mission of the monthly visits is to aid in learning and connect with students to increase confidence both inside and outside the classroom.

“The goal is to get the students more socialized, more confident, more comfortable,” said Honi Matchell, a fifth-grade teacher at Crownhill. “That has absolutely been achieved.”

Sailors performed classroom support tasks such as setting up for lessons and assisting students with reading, writing and mathematics assignments.

“It’s nice when people are reliable and consistent and we have so many people helping us by donating so much of their time.” said Jennifer Erickson, a fifth-grade teacher at Crownhill.

Sailors also had the opportunity to play recreational and educational games with the students, tie-dye shirts and ate lunch together.

“Airman Diaz has been working with two of my ELL (English language learning) students,” said Matchell. “I often have her play games that allow for a lot of English speaking interaction to help them practice their language skills. They then take the skills they’ve learned with her and use them to teach other students to play the games.”

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Melanie Diaz, from Inglewood, California, has been volunteering with the students in Matchell’s class for three months.

“I’ve definitely seen the bond grow,” said Diaz. “The first time I came, the students were shy and holding back. The next time, when it was time for me to leave one of the students ran up and asked me if I could come back again.”

Diaz went on to say that the role of the volunteers was not to be a teacher or authority figure, but to be a person that the student could look up to and be confident and comfortable learning with.

“I truly believe in the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child,'” said Matchell. “And the volunteers have become that village at Crownhill.”

Crownhill School is just one of several schools that the John C. Stennis weapons department volunteered in over the past several months.

John C. Stennis is conducting a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades.

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